MRI BREAST IMAGING TECHNOLOGY COMES OF AGE
We were the first MRI provider with dedicated breast coils, CADstream technology systems, and biopsy capabilities.
Interest in breast MRI among physicians in the United States is surging – and with good reason. In addition to growing evidence confirming the value of MRI for early detection of breast cancer, new breakthroughs such as computer-aided detection (CAD) are causing physicians to take a second look at the technology as an effective screening and diagnosis tool. Today, more and more physicians are turning to MRI when they require highly sensitive images of a patient’s breast. Many have found that, when used in conjunction with computer-aided detection (CAD) software, MRI can help detect abnormalities deep within the breast – growths that may have previously gone undetected. In addition, long-awaited practice guidelines are helping to optimize specificity and standardization, bringing the procedure that much closer to becoming a common, reliable diagnostic tool.
What to Expect During Your Breast MRI
Patients will be asked to change into a hospital gown but may leave their socks on for warmth. Safety pins, straight pins, metal hair pins and all jewelry must be removed before entering the exam room.
Most breast MRI exams require an injection of a contrast agent called gadolinium. An I.V. will be placed in your arm before the exam. Please tell us in advance of your exam date if you have ever had an allergic reaction to MRI contrast in the past (or any other contrast agent), or if you have any renal (kidney) disease so we can adjust your preparation accordingly.
You will be asked to lie on your stomach on a cushioned bed. Your breasts will be positioned within a padded opening on the bed.
Earphones will be placed on your head to block out the thumping and beeping sounds that occur during the exam. You will also be given a button to push should you need assistance during the exam.
The bed will slowly move into the magnet for the exam. You will hear a muffled thumping sound intermittently throughout the scan. To ensure your exam is successful, you need to hold as still as you can throughout the procedure.
When the contrast dye is released into your body, you will feel a cool sensation as it passes through your veins. This is normal and is not painful.
The exam itself should only take 20-30 minutes. The technician will be communicating with you through a speaker inside the scanner. Once the exam is over, your I.V. will be removed and you will be free to change back into your clothes and leave.
Your doctor will call you with your results.
The clinical advantages of breast MRI are quite clear: determining the extent of a patient’s breast cancer, monitoring response to therapy, and screening high-risk patients. According to the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the procedure should be performed for the following reasons:
Locating a suspected occult primary breast cancer
Identifying the presence of ipsilateral tumor or contralateral disease in patients with proven breast cancer when dense tissue precludes an accurate mammographic assessment
Monitoring response to neo-adjuvant hormonal therapy or chemotherapy
Identifying candidates for breast conservation and determining the extent of resection required
Screening patients at very high risk for breast cancer, especially those with suspected or proven deleterious mutations of BRCA 1/2
Evaluating suspicious clinical finding or imaging results that remain indeterminate after complete mammographic and sonographic evaluations combined with a thorough physical exam
Will Breast MRI Replace Mammography?
Not any time soon. In fact, breast MRI should be considered an additional tool to improve our present combination of mammography and ultrasound. Also, mammograms are better than MRI at detecting calcifications, which may be one of the early signs of breast cancer.
What About False Positives?
As with mammography or ultrasound, there is the potential for false positives with breast MRI. For example, with mammography, only one in five biopsies will prove to be cancerous. MRI is slightly better in this regard, but because the test is so sensitive, false positives still occur due to benign tumors and other conditions.
What Can’t Breast MRI Tell Us?
With mammography, a certain type of very small calcifications can be an early indication of cancer. However, breast MRI cannot detect calcifications. Instead, different markers for cancer are used, including the blood flow of the tumor, as well as the size and appearance of the tumor.
Where Can I Learn More About Breast Cancer?
Go to www.breastcancer.org to learn more about the disease, early detection procedures like MRIs, prevention and treatment.
Where Can I Find Support?
There are so many organizations out there to assist you financially and emotionally. Here are a few:
Saint Agatha Foundation: http://saintagathafoundation.org
For more details on MRI breast imaging, or for information on the referral process, contact the imaging experts at the following MDR locations:
Crouse Physicians Office Building
North Medical Center
Northeast Medical Center
Always check with your insurance company for prior authorization.
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